Back when I was a teenager one Saturday morning in Detroit, my dream of Halle Berry was unpleasantly cut short by the sound of my pager ringtone. As I wiped the sleep from my eyes, I saw that the code was ‘787’ which was my friend “DL” with a call number I didn’t recognize tagged with a “119” code at the end that meant to call back ASAP because 911 said emergency. DL had been one of my best friends since middle school, and now that we were two months into High School as Freshman, I could always count on him calling me early morning on the weekend to talk to me about a girl.
DL “What up Doe nigga?”
Me “Wad up Dog?”
DL “Nigga guess what happen last night?”
DL was the type of guy whose stories could go on forever, so like always, I turned on my Genesis and start playing “Street Fighter 2” hoping this time I can finally whip M.Bison’s ass with a few Hadukens. There were a few parts of DL’s story that stuck to me like he was currently over his aunt’s house, which explained the unrecognized number. Something about DL sneaking off and driving his Uncle’s car around the block a few times.
DL” Nigga did you hear me? I said JUNIORS!!!”
Me “Huh? What?”
DL “Nigga stop playing that damn game and listen; I said both of these chicks were JUNIORS!!!”
So apparently while driving his Uncle’s car around the block, DL met these two girls who were walking to the corner store, which, according to him, were “Bad as shit!!!” DL said that both girls were “down” with going to the movies later that night, so I also had to come. I stated that I had to work at my part-time job that night, and DL response was “Call off nigga, we got junior bitches!!!!” That simple statement was enough for me to tell my boss later at the grocery store that they would be short one bagger because I had that “flu” going around.
It may have been difficult for an ordinary High School freshman boy to get the attention of a girl junior, but DL was no average 14year old. DL was one of those kids who’s physically matured quicker than most his age. When we met in the 6th grade, he already had a full out mustache and a Barry White like voice tone that always impress the girls. On more than one occasion, DL would get cussed out on the phone by a parent whenever he would call to ask to speak to their daughter. Size-wise DL he was medium built because of workouts with his father in their basement. DL was also a world-class professional liar who could convince an angel to sell its wings, so it was no surprise to find out he told the junior girls we were all the same age. DL also told the Junior Girls that he was the owner of the current car he was driving and was on the way to the shop for repairs, so we’ll meet them at the show. When I asked which show theatre we were going to, DL said, “Americana.” My silent pause must have spoken loud because DL ask if I was scared, which of course, I responded quickly with an unconfident “No”; however, once I got off the phone, my optimism for the upcoming night had been tainted.
Americana Movie Theatre located about two miles outside Detroit 8 mile borderline that made it close enough to be the “Hood” movie spot. Like all “Hood Movie” spots, Americana was constantly on the local news Monday morning because of a shootout or massive fight breakout that happen over the weekend. When movies like “New Jack City,” “Menace To Society”, “Boyz In Da Hood” played at the Americana, they serve as fuel for already angry folk who came ready for trouble. Not to mention that there was no chance in hell that “hearing” the actual movie was possible. Popcorn thrown in the air and “Run Bitch Run” comments were regular during the show. Everybody in the Detroit area had a friend, cousin, or family member that was shot, killed, stabbed, robbed, or jumped on by an entourage of dudes wearing Tims and Rockports, whether inside the actual theatre or outside in the parking lot for the whole world to see. A part of me wished I had never answered DL’s call earlier, but I couldn’t miss hanging out with the Junior Girls. So I creased my Guess jeans and began to prepare for the night
DL’s older sister Lacey dropped us off on the side of Americana Movie Theatre because she didn’t want to chance a guy she may have been dating to see her in another man’s new Eddie Bauer Explorer considering she had no job. The parking lot filled with weed smoke, dice games, and music blasting. 2Pac’s “To Live And Die LA” was playing on one side while Notorious B.I.G’s “One More Chance” played on the opposite, showing how the middle of the country Detroit was in their Hip Hop choices. DL tapped me on the shoulder and pointed, saying, “There they go right there” to show three girls pulling up in the entrance in a droptop all blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, two upfront while the other sat in the back with shades. All three girls were wearing springtime daisy duke shorts, gold ankle bracelets, with different color tank tops looking like extras from a “702” video. Each girl was a different shade of brown, one dark named Tonya, one light named Lisa, and one brown named Irish. I instantly knew DL’s choice was the lightest of the three. DL’s was that brown skin brother who would walk up to you during recess and match his arm with yours and say, “Damn, nigga you black as shit!!!” DL most definitely had a thing for that light complexion and straight hair perceived as “good hair.” DL quickly proved how right I was in his woman selection as he grabbed Lisa by her waist and introduced all of us. The third girl Tonya came only to meet someone else, so after the introduction, she walked toward the dice game with the oversized brothers wearing the Coogi sweaters. After we shook hands, I was gone off Irish whose hazel eyes were instantly my kryptonite as well as by her Lauren London dimples. While in line to purchase the tickets, I realized Irish was cool as hell, and we began to see how much in common we had. We both were Hip Hop heads and were arguing about who on the west coast could rap better than an MC on the east coast. We laughed at each other’s jokes genuinely; however, when she placed her arm around my elbow walking in the theatre, I felt everything moving in slow motion. “Be cool dog” is what I kept saying to myself. DL and I built the same, so Irish believed I was the same age also plus the small dashes of dirt on my upper lip helped. DL and I both agreed that seeing a comedy was best, so hopefully, no idiots would feel encouraged for trouble, so “A Thin Line Between Love & Hate” was the best choice as the show crowd laughed hilariously at Martin running from the crazy woman in the film. While the movie played, everyone was laughing in their seats besides DL and Lisa, who were way too busy taking each other’s oxygen with the ugliest teenage French kissing display I had ever seen. Besides a couple of glances of my friend and his date trying to do everything possible in front of strangers, added by Irish occasional hazel eye glance, it appeared that everything good was going our way.
To choose to go home immediately after the show ended would’ve have been a sunset ending to, at the time, a great date. We could’ve been smart and walked down the street to Wendy’s, but instead, we all decided to act like teenagers. DL suggested the left corner side of the Americana Movie Theatre’s front entrance for us to hang out for a little while longer, meaning he (DL) wanted to feel upon Lisa more while no adults were around. I was also guilty because Irish and I were casually leaning up against the wall sharing kisses that were less aggressive than our two friends. The fun stopped when Tonya came on the scene arms folded with a glare and spoke with a pissed off tone saying, “I’m ready to go! Is you ready because I’m ready!” The Coogi sweater guy she was with had made her mad because some random number beeped him and Tonya assumed it was a girl. DL was not happy at all as he begins to snap at Tonya, telling her to “Take her ass elsewhere because nobody is trying to hear that loud mouth shit!!!” DL at the time was a huge fan of Too $hort and thought he could always on any given day get away with calling a girl “Beeeetich!!!” Tonya was not the one to be disrespected, so she began to call DL all types of “Bitch ass niggas” while Lisa tried to calm both of them. The situation was clear enough for Irish and me to believe that the thrill was gone, so we decided right then to exchange phone numbers. Unfortunately, my pen fell out of my pocket, so I dashed back inside the theatre to get it because I was determined not to let DL mess up my chance with an older girl I fell in love with two hours prior.
My lucky pen was chillin right on the bottom of the seat that I was sitting in, so I instantly calmed my nerves and began to cool slow walk back outside not to look as geeked as I was feeling inside. Once I got outside, DL, Lisa, Irish, and even Toya were all gone from where I left them. I heard my name called from the right of me where I could see a large crowd gathered in a circle. At that moment, both Lisa and Irish ran up to me, telling me DL was in a fight in the circle, and I need to help him. As I fought my way through the crowd, I saw that DL, maybe 165lbs, up against “Coogi-Dude” from the dice game that I could see on a closer view was a solid 265lbs. Each Coogi –Dude punch sent DL flying into someone in the circle’s arms as he lost balance with each blow. The usual rule was that if your friend was fighting someone one on one, you had to let them handle that; however, it was painfully clear that DL’s fight was with a grown-ass man between the age of 22 and 28 so there was nothing fair about this situation. I went around one person who was in front of me to help DL but felt a sharp grip on my left shoulder. I turned around to see this 6’2 solid brown skin guy whose size said he could easily be an offensive lineman on the practice squad for the Detroit Lions. This guy wore a Pelle Pelle faded stonewash jean outfit while his hairstyle was an S-Curl with the slight forehead shine looking like Gerald LeVert on a Video Soul clip. “Yo, leave it alone little nigga , let them handle that.” Pushing S-Curl Dude’s hand away from my shoulder, I yelled, “Get the fuck off me Dog!!!” Which he didn’t seem to like; however, I could care less since my friend is now an old punching bag in a Rocky movie. My temper was on fire hence why when S-Curl dude tried to grab my left shoulder again, I turned around and swung with the fury of the gods that would’ve to cause serious harm if my fist had connected. “Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!” I screamed like an injured little curled up puppy as the pain shot up my right arm because in mid-motion S-Curl Dude had caught my fist with his hand and now was squeezing it with his grown-ass man strength. At this point, I was using both hands to loosen the grip, but S-Curl Dude’s laughter assured me that my efforts were mere tickling. I kicked his left knee, but more pain came on my end because it felt like a tree trunk. “Little nigga did you just kick my jeans?” he said. S-Curl Dude then reached down below my waist to grab my entire underdeveloped manhood while still having a steel grip on my other hand lifting me off the ground and held me in mid-air like an Ultimate Warrior finishing move. When S-Curl dude dropped me, I bounced off the concrete like a worn-out dodge ball. As I tried to stand up, my vision was dizzy because S-Curl dude appeared to look like three people. “You gone sit yo ass down now dog?!!” he said this time, not laughing but pissed off that I had a left a small footprint on his stonewash jeans. “Fu fu fuck you nigga” I said with a struggle of a person who felt like I was hit by a truck. “What?!!” he said as he then grabbed by my collar, lifted me off the ground, and started slamming me in between against two Grand Cherokee Jeeps repeatedly. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! My head pounded like a High School bell ring that nobody would turn off. With each slam, I kept hoping that like school, somebody would come and break it up or least until S-Curl dude would get tired. After the 5th WHAM against the red jeep, I realized that nobody was coming to save me, and S-Curl Dude would never get tired because people never get bored of winning. After the final WHAM, I collapsed on my back, looking straight up at the sky, hoping some ancestor would grant me special powers like in a comic book. I turned to the right and could see Lisa and Irish looking with concern and embarrassment. “Now sit yo bitch ass down!!!” S-Curl Dude said while wiping off his forehead. Still not trying to “go out like a punk,” I rolled over on my stomach, lifted myself up with one knee, and said, “Fuck you, Pillsbury Doughboy.” At that moment, my head became softer than my ass as the last thing I heard was S-Curl Dude saying, “Go to sleep nigga!!!” as his straight fist shot to my forehead. Sleep time was now his command for me to follow.
I woke up to the feeling of a security guard who was slightly smacking my face asking me if I was “Ok?” I wanted to reply with a “B***h do I look ok and why is yo a** just NOW showing up?” DL’s sister was helping him inside the truck, and I followed behind. As we drove off, DL explained to his sister what happened; he had called Tonya one bitch too many, so she(Tonya) went and got her grown-ass too old to be dating her boyfriend, and the rest is a painful history. DL was already passed out from his fight and didn’t know until looking at my new closed eye that I tried to help. After DL explanation, there was no more conversation in the car as his sister was lowkey laughing under her breath while on the radio The Pharcyde “Passin Me By” begin to play.
Over the weekend, my mom got me an ice pack for my eye, and surprisingly the swelling had gone down by the time school started on Monday. Unfortunately, I had swelled knots on my head from being smashed up against those jeeps that I had to cover up with as skullcap. In class, nobody even noticed how my right eye was slightly bigger than the left, and no teacher so far was bugging me about my hat being on in class, that was until last period Algebra with Mr. Sands “Not today Mister Hall” Mr. Sands said firmly. I pleaded with Mr. Sands that I will be no problem in class if he would please let me keep the hat on. “Mister Hall, either you take off that hat now or take it off in detention.” Mr. Sands said. After school detention was not an option considering I had to work, so I took off my hat slowly met with an explosion by the class. “DAYUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!!!!” The class all said in harmony as jokes begin to fly like “Yo Rocky mountains” or “What up Mr. Lumps” and my favorite “Nigga what lion whipped yo ass for trying to steal its zebra?” Mr. Sands politely gave me back my hat and allowed me to wear it for days until the swelling went down.
DL and I went to different schools; however, we finally talked later in the week, and his parents allowed him to stay home because they believed his flu story. I asked if there was any word from Lisa in hopes that Irish may have mentioned me, but his reply was, “Naw, man fuck that bitch!!!” Both my feelings and rib cage were hurt because I was going to miss Irish. In true DL fashion, he cleared his throat and said, “Aye nigga, fuck that shit, everybody loses sometimes. Fuck you got up this Saturday coming up, though?” If I were looking for DL to apologize, then I would be still waiting years later. DL then spoke about some “new chicks” he knew wanted to know if I was busy the following Saturday, reaching for the icepack; my answer was easy. “Yea, I’m free….”
J Hall is a Detroit-bred Howard Bison multimedia culture critic. An abstract thinker who believes “You ain’t wrong when you’re right,” and that his mother’s cupcakes are legendary. Check out his slight worldwide view here: https://linktr.ee/jhall.